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3D Visualization: A Way to Save Lives?

3D Visualization: A Way to Save Lives?

The tools for saving millions of lives already exist - we just need to use them.  

As part of our ongoing VR and the Future of Medicine series, the zSpace Team is sharing stories about the future of medicine. zSpace Director of Education, Elizabeth Lytle, who entered this field because of the impact VR could have on patient education, spent some time talking with Director of Cardiac Imaging and Chair of Cardiac Innovation at West Virginia University, Dr. Partho Sengupta. Below is a summary of their conversation.

Who better to discuss the potential for the impact of virtual reality (VR) in medicine than the ‘Physician Holographer’ Dr. Sengupta? His famed presentation in 2013 at the American Society of Electrocardiography had a human hologram on stage. Then, in 2016, at TEDMED, he took his vision further by showcasing the ability to view the Mitral Valve (the valve located between your left heart chambers) -- in virtual reality -- with a plan for saving millions of lives through cardiac ultrasound and holography for clinical diagnostics.

“Mitral valve disease affects 5-10% of the population and the mitral valve, as a structure, has hills and dales. It is usually checked via ultrasound and this provides a flattened view of the valve. Someone with a lot of experience can recognize a possible tear in the Mitral Valve via ultrasound. But, with holography, showing the valve in 3D, being able to look around it, a high school student could recognize a mitral valve tear!” says Dr. Sengupta.

The general premise shared by Dr. Sengupta is that the cognitive load required to analyze the mitral valve is currently too high. Better visualization, now possible through technology like zSpace, can lower the knowledge needed to diagnose a mitral valve problem. This then changes how surgeons and cardiologists are able to work together to diagnose, communicate findings, and plan treatment, resulting in improved and more rapid patient treatment. A pretty big statement, right?

Dr. Sengupta says: “You must see something accurately before you can imagine the possibilities” whether they are possibilities of health, disease or disorder. Holography, or 3D visualization, presents information exactly like the anatomy. It offers clinicians the opportunity to see body structures in ways that do not require extensive translation from a flat image, like an ultrasound. Sengupta says this type of visualization will decrease the knowledge required to diagnose and understand mitral valve problems, and that means better patient care.

While Sengupta is passionate about finding a team to work with him on building the software to visualize ultrasound through holographic technology, CT and MRIs are already being viewed in this fashion through True3D software by EchoPixel and the HP zVR powered by zSpace. The outcome does more than warm your heart strings; it shows that the power of more accurate visualization is not a far fetched idea. Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, CA recently shared how visualization through zSpace supported a conjoined twin separation and enabled a surgeon to choose a less invasive approach. This isn’t just potential to impact medicine; medicine is already changing.

Want to hear more from Dr. Partho Sengupta? See his full TEDMED 2017 talk here.

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